How to Pick a Paralegal Training Program near Dateland Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Dateland AZ and start your journey that will lead to a fulfilling profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you find the ideal school so that you will receive the extensive training that you require to succeed. As you probably understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more academic options are being offered, both on campus and online. However with so many options to choose from, where does one begin? Some potential students start by trying to find schools within traveling range of their Dateland residences. Of those choices, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are important considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only qualifiers you must take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program need to be considered as well. Later on in this post we will review a list of concerns that you should ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare each one prior to making your choice. But first, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the educational options that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals essentially both fill the same job positions and responsibilities, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a different job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist Dateland AZ lawyers with a wide variety of job duties, such as legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job duties are based upon the type of legal firm where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might assist with the logistics of a trial or transporting files to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is typically billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And the same as lawyers, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and adhere to a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they are employed, but some of their day-to-day tasks can include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on related cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping lawyers prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a paralegal can be involved and very demanding. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not confined to administrative or clerical tasks more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants truly are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys have the ability to take on a much larger number of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic requirements and opportunities will be the same. The quickest means to begin your career as a paralegal in Dateland AZ is by obtaining a certificate, which may involve as little as 6 months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more expansive education and can be earned at numerous community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. Once you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you might want to proceed and obtain a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Arizona to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help maximize your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. Some of the highly regarded certifying agencies in the profession are:
- National Federation of Paralegal Associations
- American Alliance of Paralegals
- National Association of Legal Assistants
- National Association for Legal Professionals
By graduating with a paralegal certificate or degree from an accredited school (we will cover the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 crucial initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
What to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Now that you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what educational choices are available, you can begin the undertaking of assessing schools. But since there are so many programs available at community and junior colleges in the Dateland AZ area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to find out what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like many potential students, you will begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other crucial aspects to consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over several of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are considering so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select need to be accredited by a respected organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it can also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Dateland AZ law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are often available only for accredited schools.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant programs you are considering. This is of particular importance if you are new to the profession with no prior work history, since employers will have to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Checking that the school you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call several Dateland AZ law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even when a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal establishment while still in school. They can also present a pathway for students to begin establishing contacts within the Dateland AZ legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are evaluating provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will undoubtedly want to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without support. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Considering that laws differ from one state to another, it might be a good idea to select a paralegal school located in Arizona or the state where you plan to work after graduation. In addition, it will be valuable to establish relationships in the area legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to obtain your education in the area where you want to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may wish to first look at those schools that are within the Dateland AZ area.
How Much is the Total Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in price based on the credential obtained and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Remember to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid may be obtainable to help offset part of the expense, so make sure to talk to the school’s financial aid department to see what is offered in Dateland AZ. Naturally if you opt to attend an online school, a portion these added expenses, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? A number of legal students continue working while getting their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Dateland AZ, make certain classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the school you choose offers that option. Last, ask what the process is for making-up missed classes as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Schools
Online paralegal or legal assistant programs have become more available and may be a good option for individuals looking for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be particularly appealing to students who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an added benefit, online schools can often be less costly than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the training you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the school and program you are thinking about are accredited by a highly regarded organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less structured and formal setting, then obtaining your certificate or degree online might be the right option for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Dateland AZ?
If you live near Dateland AZ or perhaps you are considering attending classes in that area, following is some interesting and useful information regarding the location of your new school campus.
Dateland began as a road stop in the 1920s. During World War II, Dateland was home to Dateland Air Force Auxiliary Field. After the closure of the airfield, the land was subdivided in the 1970s. The developers of one subdivision on the former airfield, El Camino Del Sol, were convicted of fraud in 1977. Most of Dateland consists of undeveloped lots.
This area has a large amount of sunshine year round due to its stable descending air and high pressure. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Dateland has a desert climate, abbreviated "Bwh" on climate maps.
Find the Right Paralegal Degree Program near Dateland AZ
Choosing the right paralegal degree program is a crucial first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have addressed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Dateland residence. Paralegal academic programs are made available in many formats and lengths. Various kinds of public and private institutions offer paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a profound impact on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, pick wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible chance to be successful in this fascinating profession. But regardless of how you decide to acquire your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to review each program and make your final decision. And with the right education you can accomplish your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Dateland AZ.
Other Arizona Locations That May Be Of Interest